In the months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, public defenders in Virginia saw an opportunity to overhaul policing in the state. Among their key priorities to address racial disparities: a ban on traffic stops for such infractions as broken taillights, tinted windows and the aroma of marijuana.
What happened next stunned police officials across Virginia.
In just three months, the ban the public defenders pitched to Democratic legislators sailed to the governor’s desk and was signed into law. With Covid-19 shutting down the state Capitol and forcing the legislative sessions to take place via Zoom, the law enforcement officials who objected to the bill had failed to galvanize the opposition.